Celebrities with hearing loss

What You and Rob Lowe Might Have in Common

Hearing loss affects everyone — even the rich and famous. The hearing loss issues of these celebrities shine a light on the different ways you can lose your hearing and how to overcome it.


Rob Lowe

Lowe lost his hearing to undiagnosed mumps when he was a baby. Mumps is a viral infection that frequently causes hearing loss by inflicting damage to the cochlea (inner-ear organ of hearing). “Really loud restaurants drive me ballistic,” Lowe told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I live in a mono world. I wish I could [hear in] stereo.’’

Some hearing aid styles offer directional sound for 360° hearing, feedback cancellation, and enhanced noise reduction for noisy or windy environments to help you enjoy your restaurant experience.


Stephen Colbert

Though there’s nothing funny about hearing loss, Colbert is able to accept and even make light of his impairment. The political satirist and Emmy-winning talk show host was in elementary school when doctors found a tumor in his right ear, which required surgery. During the procedure they also had to remove Colbert’s eardrum, leaving him deaf in that ear.

Catching childhood hearing loss early is essential to ensuring academic, social, and professional success. For instance, a recent study from the University of Southampton found that teenagers who had been identified as deaf by the time they were 9 months old had much better language skills than children who had not been screened. These findings illustrate the longer-term benefits of early hearing loss detection.


Jane Lynch

Even though Lynch works in an environment where hearing is essential, the Glee star is deaf in her right ear. Her impairment was most likely the result of a high fever in infancy, but the loss was not discovered until she was 7 years old. “My brother was switching his transistor radio from one ear to the other,” she explained in her 2011 memoir, Happy Accidents. “I said, ‘You can’t do that. You can only hear out of one ear.’ He said, ‘No, I can hear out of both!’”

Earbuds allow you to listen to music anywhere, anytime, and for long periods. That’s awesome, but it’s not so great for your hearing. The decibel level (the sound pressure) and the length of listening time affect how much damage is done. Sound becomes damaging at 85 decibels (the sound level of a bulldozer idling). Try the 60/60 rule: Listen to your device at 60% volume for 60 minutes at a time.


Jodie Foster

Though she keeps quiet about her personal life, Foster has spoken about her hearing loss, telling a Chicago Tribune reporter that she’s not very good about taking care of her own health needs, especially “this hearing-loss thing” and her vertigo attacks. She has been photographed wearing a hearing aid.

Dizziness can be a symptom of many different diseases and disorders, but repeated dizzy spells are commonly associated with vertigo, which often results from a small mineral fragment detaching itself inside the cochlea and moving freely throughout the fluids of the inner ear. Diagnostic and treatment options have become more effective over the past 10 years, and many individuals now have stronger options for relieving symptoms. With proper diagnosis and balance retraining – a series of therapeutic exercises – many can regain their lifestyle, including those older folks concerned with losing their ability to stay active.


Ludwig Van Beethoven

Yes, that’s right — one of the world’s most famous musicians and composers had hearing loss. He began losing his hearing when he was in his 30s, and he experienced tinnitus as well. The cause of his hearing loss is unknown, but it’s believed that illness and/or lead poisoning was the culprit.

As hearing aids and communication technology continue to advance, more wireless products are available to help you hear better in many different life situations. Whether it’s Bluetooth® devices that connect your cell phone to your hearing aids or wireless TV connectors that allow you to watch movies at a comfortable volume, hearing aid technology has come a long way since Beethoven.


Leslie Nielsen

Nielsen not only believed in a good laugh, he believed in hearing loss awareness. He worked closely with the Better Hearing Institute to educate people on all aspects of hearing loss, focusing on its lifestyle impacts as well as communication complications. He believed in improving life through the use of hearing aid technology. After being diagnosed with hearing loss, his technology helped him continue his thriving career.

One whole-health benefit of hearing aids is their positive effect on your risk for cognitive decline. Those with just a mild hearing loss may be twice as likely to develop dementia; those with hearing loss have demonstrated a 30% to 40% accelerated rate of cognitive decline.


William Shatner

The actor is affected with a ringing in the ears, or more concisely, tinnitus. “My tinnitus began while I was filming a Star Trek episode [called] ‘Arena.’ I was standing too close to a special effects explosion and it resulted in tinnitus,” Shatner tells The American Tinnitus Association.

Tinnitus is the perception of sound inside the ear when nothing is there. The most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), which is the most common type of hearing loss, meaning the two tend to go hand in hand. NIHL is almost entirely preventable with the proper hearing protection. Your local audiologist can help determine whether earplugs, earmuffs, or another form of protection is best for your listening lifestyle.


Eric Clapton

Underscoring the need for hearing protection during live music, the legendary musician developed hearing loss and tinnitus in both ears as a result of years of performing loud concerts.

Music, whether listened to live or in your headphones, can be damaging if listened to too loudly for too long. Custom hearing protection, such as musicians’ earplugs, from your local audiologist practice help you enjoy your music safely now and in the concerts to come!


Thomas Edison

The famous inventor experienced hearing loss in both ears from the age of 12. Both his father and son experienced the same hearing loss, suggesting they had what is called congenital hearing loss.

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, one of the most common birth defects is hearing loss or deafness (congenital). It can affect as many as three of every 1,000 babies born. Most children receive their first hearing screening shortly after birth. All states have implemented newborn hearing screenings into hospitals and birthing clinics, and most screenings happen before the parent and child are discharged. If the child does not pass the test twice, they are referred to an audiologist for further testing.


Bill Clinton

This former U.S. president wears two in-the-canal hearing aids because of a moderate loss of high-frequency hearing. It’s believed his hearing loss is the result of gunfire while hunting, political rallies, and listening to loud music. Like many with hearing loss, he ignored his hearing difficulties for years until doctors diagnosed him with high-frequency hearing deficiency, the most common form of hearing loss.

Clinton’s hearing loss was caught during a routine physical, highlighting the importance of annual hearing checks, especially after the age of 40. Consult your local audiologist about the frequency of your hearing checks.

Hearing loss can affect any and everyone, so ensure you’re hearing your best and doing everything to protect it by contacting us today!